Pediatric Sleep Medicine

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Pediatric Sleep Medicine Experts Treat a Wide Range of Sleep Disorders

For infants, children and teenagers, restful sleep is critical for strong growth and development. Our sleep medicine team at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s provide the care your child may need for a wide range of sleep disorders – at convenient locations across the region – including:

  • Insomnia: This condition can cause a range of issues such as difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep or waking up too early and not being able to fall back asleep.
  • Narcolepsy: Caused by overwhelming sleepiness, children with narcolepsy fall asleep involuntarily during the day or nap frequently.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea: With this condition, a child may gasp when snoring due to an interruption in breathing.
  • Restless leg syndrome: Sometimes known as growing pains, restless leg syndrome can cause an uncomfortable feeling in their legs.
  • Family history of sleep problems

Insufficient sleep is rampant in this country and for any sleep disorder, more common or the most complex, our team is able to help. With expert diagnosis and optimal treatment for your child’s specific sleep issues, we offer evidence-based methods to provide good quality sleep. With a complete evaluation, our team of sleep specialists will be able to determine next steps, including eliminating other possible causes. We will also be able to determine if a sleep study is appropriate for an accurate diagnosis – if a breathing issue is suspected.

Understanding Sleep Patterns and Sleep Recommendations for Children

Sleep patterns are very different in children than in adults. Many children have trouble falling asleep or trouble staying asleep, but also wake up frequently or have disturbing mind sleep. Because of these sleep issues and lack of a good night’s sleep, children then can have problems at school with attention or behavior – because they are missing good quality, restful sleep. Only about half of children with sleep issues have a respiratory concern, but have more significant sleep issues.

The minimal amount of sleep that is recommended for optimal health, based on data from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, may be surprising to some parents. Our team was actually on the national task force that developed these recommendations:

  • For infants 4 to 12 months: 12 to 16 hours of sleep, including naps, every 24 hours
  • Children 1 to 2 years: 11 to 14 hours of sleep, including naps, every 24 hours
  • Children 3 to 5 years: 10 to 13 hours of sleep, including naps, every 24 hours
  • Children 6 to 12 years: 9 to 12 hours of sleep every 24 hours
  • Teens 13 to 18 years: 8 to 10 hours of sleep every 24 hours

Understanding How Sleep Affects Growth and Development

Our team is leading the way for improvements in sleep medicine. We are on national committees to better identify sleep issues and sleep disturbances. In addition, we are leaders in national research and clinical trials, including:

  • Pediatric Adenotonsillectomy for Snoring (PATS) study: A research study sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health, we are investigating the best care for children who have breathing or snoring issues during sleep, without any issues of apnea, or breathing disruption during sleep.
  • Narcolepsy studies
  • Inspire studies for Down Syndrome patients

Because children can have issues with tonsils or adenoids that affect sleep, our team is able to determine the specific cause of interrupted sleep. Also, as children or adolescents continue to grow and develop, sometimes low iron or obesity become a factor which also can affect good sleep. Our team helps identify any consistent or inconsistent vulnerabilities in children that can affect their growth and development because of disruptive sleep patterns.

Only Certified Pediatric Behavioral Sleep Medicine Specialist in NE Ohio

For the review of any challenging behaviors with children that have sleep problems, our sleep team at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s has the only specially trained pediatric developmental behavioral specialist in northeast Ohio certified by the American Association of Sleep Medicine. This expertise helps our team to better understand the possible behavioral sleep medicine issues that are affecting good sleep which may include:

  • Circadian Rhythm Disorders: Children of any age with sleep wake schedule problems sleep during the day and are awake at night. Our team uses Chrono Therapy, a technique where sleep hours are gradually pushed forward hour by hour over time so that the patient is able to sleep at normal times at night.
  • Separation Anxiety: Generally around the age of 6 months, your child may begin to experience separation anxiety or an anxious state when parents leave the room, especially at bedtime.
  • Sleepwalking, Sleep Talking, Night Terrors and Nightmares: Perhaps from viewing too much violence, our team uses Imagery Rehearsal Therapy to help patients choose the scenes and images that they would like to see in their dreams.
  • School Performance Due to Sleep Issues: Our team helps children who miss school due to sleep issues, including those who have trouble waking up in morning, fall asleep during the day or take long naps during the day.
  • Specialized Behavioral Needs: In children with conditions such as autism, ADHD, anxiety disorders, eating disorders or other issues, our team can help with the behavioral aspects of care.
  • Chronic Illness: For individuals that are adjusting to chronic illnesses such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis or other conditions, we help with issues that affect sleep such as managing side effects of medication, setting up physical activity plans and helping patients transition to any new therapies for their specific conditions.

Helping Children Achieve Restful Sleep with Healthy Sleep Habits

Many areas contribute to inadequate sleep and our team can help teach children how to sleep better. Getting sufficient exercise can help improve quality of sleep. It had been proven that minimizing the amount of light – by getting unplugged at night, not responding to texts, not watching tv in bed and generally eliminating media from your sleep space – will help encourage restful sleep.

Because our team has been instrumental in developing these practices, we can help parents learn how to set limits and guide their children to healthy sleep patterns. These may include consistent bedtime routines and sleeping in their own bed. Fitness trackers can also be helpful in tracking sleep patterns.

In addition, your child may be having difficulty getting restful sleep due to other health concerns. Our team works closely with pediatric specialists at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s to provide help for patients affected by sleep issues that may need specialized sleep evaluations, including patients with:

  • Cranio-facial conditions
  • Genetic disorders
  • Neuromuscular issues

We work together with all pediatric specialists, including dentists and orthodontists, to determine the best treatment for your child’s condition. These treatments may include oral devices or orthodontia assistance to help airways grow better.

School Start Times and Sleep Patterns

With national expertise in sleep medicine, our team is instrumental in the discussions of school start times that affect sleep patterns in children of all ages. These early start times, especially in Ohio, are a significant source of sleep loss for teens and middle age children given the biological change in their sleep clock. As advocates for an adjustment in school start times, many professional organizations have recommended more appropriate school start times to allow children the necessary rest for optimal health, but also for improved school performance. Until some of these adjustments are made across school systems, our sleep team at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s provide numerous helpful resources for assistance, including:

  • Common sleep problems
  • Pediatric disorders and sleep problems
  • Tips for improved sleeping in infants, children and teens

In addition, our team helps parents learn more about sleep patterns in children through many national resources, including:

Sleep Lab Expertise Provides Sleep Disorder Diagnostic Capabilities

To determine the causes of sleep issues in children of any age, our skilled sleep lab team provides overnight sleep studies for diagnostic purposes. We are able to accurately determine the sleep disorder that may affect many areas of health in your child. A sleep study is conducted overnight and we help parents understand what to expect with your child’s sleep study and answer any of your questions.

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